IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/col/000425/008689.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development Among New World Economies

Author

Listed:
  • Stanley L. Engerman
  • Kenneth Lee Sokoloff

Abstract

Whereas traditional explanations of differences in long-run paths of development across the Americas generally point to the significance of differences in national heritage or religion, we highlight the relevance of stark contrasts in the degree of inequality in wealth, human capital, and political power in accounting for how fundamental economic institutions evolved over time. We argue, moreover, that the roots of these disparities in the extent of inequality lay in differences in the initial factor endowments (dating back to the era of European colonization). We document -- through comparative studies of suffrage, public land, and schooling policies -- systematic patterns by which societies in the Americas that began with more extreme inequality or heterogeneity in the population were more likely to develop institutional structures that greatly advantaged members of elite classes (and disadvantaging the bulk of the population) by providing them with more political influence and access to economic opportunities. The clear implication is that institutions should not be presumed to be exogenous; economists need to learn more about where they come from to understand their relation to economic development. Our findings not only contribute to our knowledge of why extreme differences in the extent of inequality across New World economies have persisted for centuries, but also to the study of processes of long-run economic growth past and present.

Suggested Citation

  • Stanley L. Engerman & Kenneth Lee Sokoloff, 2002. "Factor Endowments, Inequality, and Paths of Development Among New World Economies," Economía Journal, The Latin American and Caribbean Economic Association - LACEA, vol. 0(Fall 2002), pages 41-110, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:col:000425:008689
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://economia.lacea.org/contents.htm
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Alberto Alesina & Dani Rodrik, 1994. "Distributive Politics and Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 109(2), pages 465-490.
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2001. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1369-1401, December.
    3. Allen, Robert C., 1992. "Enclosure and the Yeoman: The Agricultural Development of the South Midlands 1450-1850," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198282969.
    4. Roland Benabou, 2000. "Unequal Societies: Income Distribution and the Social Contract," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(1), pages 96-129, March.
    5. James A. Robinson & Daron Acemoglu, 2000. "Political Losers as a Barrier to Economic Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 126-130, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A, 2002. "An African Success Story: Botswana," CEPR Discussion Papers 3219, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Weinhold, Diana & Nair-Reichert, Usha, 2009. "Innovation, Inequality and Intellectual Property Rights," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 37(5), pages 889-901, May.
    3. Richard Bluhm & Adam Szirmai, 2011. "Institutions, Inequality and Growth: A review of theory and evidence on the institutional determinants of growth and inequality," Papers inwopa634, Innocenti Working Papers.
    4. Evan Wigton-Jones, 2020. "Legacies of inequality: the case of Brazil," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 25(4), pages 455-501, December.
    5. Summerhill, William, 2010. "Colonial Institutions, Slavery, Inequality, and Development: Evidence from São Paulo, Brazil," MPRA Paper 22162, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Daron Acemoglu & María Angélica Bautista & Pablo Querubín & James A. Robinson, 2007. "Economic and Political Inequality in Development: The Case of Cundinamarca, Colombia," NBER Working Papers 13208, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Ann Owen & Julio Videras & Lewis Davis, 2009. "Do all countries follow the same growth process?," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 265-286, December.
    8. Acemoglu, Daron, 2008. "Oligarchikus és demokratikus társadalmak [Oligarchic versus democratic societies]," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(7), pages 622-659.
    9. Loayza, Norman & Rigolini, Jamele & Llorente, Gonzalo, 2012. "Do middle classes bring about institutional reforms?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 116(3), pages 440-444.
    10. Fischer, Ronald & Huerta, Diego & Valenzuela, Patricio, 2019. "The inequality-credit nexus," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 105-125.
    11. Graziella Bertocchi, 2011. "The Vanishing Bequest Tax: The Comparative Evolution Of Bequest Taxation In Historical Perspective," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 23(1), pages 107-131, March.
    12. Fawaz, Fadi & Rahnamamoghadam, Masha & Valcarcel, Victor, 2014. "A Refinement of the Relationship between Economic Growth and Income Inequality in Developing Countries," MPRA Paper 55268, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. Benabou, Roland, 2005. "Inequality, Technology and the Social Contract," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 25, pages 1595-1638, Elsevier.
    14. Takuma Kunieda & Masashi Takahashi, 2019. "Inequality and Institutional Quality in a Growth Model," Discussion Paper Series 198, School of Economics, Kwansei Gakuin University.
    15. Glaeser, Edward L., 2005. "Inequality," Working Paper Series rwp05-056, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    16. Randall Morck & Lloyd Steier, 2005. "The Global History of Corporate Governance: An Introduction," NBER Chapters, in: A History of Corporate Governance around the World: Family Business Groups to Professional Managers, pages 1-64, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    17. Mwangi S. Kimenyi, 2006. "The Demand for Power Diffusion: A Case Study of the 2005 Constitutional Referendum Voting in Kenya," Working papers 2006-11, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    18. Nancy Birdsall, 2008. "Income Distribution: Effects on Growth and Development," Chapters, in: Amitava Krishna Dutt & Jaime Ros (ed.), International Handbook of Development Economics, Volumes 1 & 2, volume 0, chapter 48, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    19. Rougier, Eric, 2016. "“Fire in Cairo”: Authoritarian–Redistributive Social Contracts, Structural Change, and the Arab Spring," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 148-171.
    20. Estrin, Saul & Prevezer, Martha, 2011. "The role of informal institutions in corporate governance: Brazil, Russia, India, and China compared," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 33552, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    economic institutions; initial factor endowments; inequality;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • O43 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - Institutions and Growth
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • E02 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General - - - Institutions and the Macroeconomy

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:col:000425:008689. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: LACEA (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.